Designed By: James Wilson and Clarissa Wilson
Art By: April Borchelt, Dann May, Christina Qi, and Naomi Robinson
Published By: Starling Games
Player Count: 1-7
Time to Play: 20-60 Minutes
Flourish is easily one of my favorite new games I have played this year. It is truly the game with something in it for everyone. Literally, it covers all the bases and then some. For those that are curious, Flourish is published by the same people who bring you one of my all-time favorite games, Everdell!
Flourish packs a lot of game into a single box. Want a game you can play solo? Got it! Want a game you can play with your significant other? Yup! How about with your weekly game group of you and six others? Still applicable! Want to play competitively? There is a mode for that. How about cooperatively? Yes, there is a mode for that too. Oh, and you want some variants to mix up the game? How do two different variants sound? And let us not forget expansions. The box comes with two of those as well! There is literally so much game in a box the size of your standard game. It is truly a sight to behold. If the Tiny Epic games ever decided to make a standard-sized box game, this would be it.
Now, you might be thinking, that is a lot, but how long is the rulebook for this seemingly massive game. Six pages! That's right. Just six pages. Plus an extra double-sided sheet for the expansions. For the focus of this review, we will look at the competitive multiplayer mode, but solo mode and cooperative mode do not work all that differently.
One thing you will want to make note of is that before you play the first time, you should set aside a few hours to assemble all of the pieces. The Follies expansion has a bunch of really cute, little 3d structures, but as they are made from punchboard, you will need to assemble them. You will also put together the walls and score trackers that you will need for the base game. After these are assembled they stay assembled so you will only need to do this step once.
Once everything is punched out and put together you are ready to begin getting ready for your first game.
To get started set a wall between each player and give each player a scoreboard set to zero.
Shuffle the deck and give each player a starting hand of 6 cards. Put the remaining deck back in the middle of the table
You are now ready to begin.
How to Play:
Flourish is played over four rounds. During each round players will each play a total of three cards and then score any "end of round abilities" before commencing the new round. After you finish scoring the fourth round, you will score the end of game scoring abilities, and the player with the highest total wins.
There is no starting player in Flourish as all players take their turn simultaneously. Players will select one of their six starting cards to play, placing it face down in front of them. They then choose one card to pass to the player on their right and one card to pass to the player on their left. Put these cards face-down over the walls between you and your neighbors. Once everyone has done this, reveal the cards you chose to play, pick up the two cards passed to you, and draw one additional card from the deck. Repeat this two more times, creating a row of three cards.
Then score the round. Some cards have end-of-round scoring on the top left of them. If you played a card with an end-of-round scoring ability, tally your points and keep track of them on your scoreboard. It is worth noting that you only score "round scoring abilities" once, during the round they are played, not on future rounds.
Repeat the steps above twice, until you have completed and scored a 3x3 grid. You then enter the final round. During this round, pick up the two cards that were given to you by other players, but do not draw a card from the deck. You will have a hand of 5 cards. Choose three of these cards to play and two that will be discarded. All players reveal their three cards at once and score their end-of-round abilities for played cards.
Lastly, players score the end of the game. The end-of-game scoring is down on the bottom right of a card. Players score any cards with end-of-game scoring abilities and whoever has the highest total points wins.
Simply put, we love Flourish. If I could bring this game everywhere with me I would. It makes a great game to introduce new players to games, but all of the different ways to play it make it a wonderful fit for most gamers. Want to try out some more challenging strategies? Add in the friends expansion and partner up with an animal to meet their objectives for extra points. Or try the follies expansion and see how good your future planning skills are when it comes to placing follies in your garden.
We love that a game of Flourish can be played in about 30 minutes, but want a longer game? Try the Garden Show Variant and play back-to-back games competing for prize ribbons.
There are so many ways to mix up how you play, that the replayability of Flourish is really high. We love that you can also increase the complexity but combining multiple expansions together and mixing them with variants. It is easy to play Flourish in its basic state as a warm-up for a game night, or add things in and play it as the main event.
Another noteworthy point of Flourish is that the game is beautiful. The box is stunning, the cards are gorgeous, the 3dh follies make your garden come to life right off the table. We especially love the score trackers. They are lovely and functional. We especially love the score trackers. They are lovely and functional.
As far as gameplay is concerned, we enjoy the drafting mechanics used in Flourish. One thing that is particularly interesting is that with smaller player counts, the cards you pass along to others can be helpful to them, or potentially make their way back to you if they are not. Sometimes you have a lot of great options that you wish you could keep for yourself and it makes picking which cards to give away hard. Other times, you have something that might not be helpful for you, but could be really beneficial for a neighbor, so you have to really think about what to keep and what to pass on. As some end-of-round, or end-of-game, bonuses relate to what your neighbor's garden has in it, it may actually be helpful to send along useful cards from time to time. There are lots of different strategies that players can use to try and score the most points. You can focus on your own garden, you can focus on your neighbor's gardens, go big for end-of-round points, or play the long game and go for end-of-game points.
If there was one game that I think people should really be talking about more, it is 100% this game. Flourish will be continuing to return to our table frequently in the future, so expect lots more pictures on our Instagram.
You can learn more about Flourish on Starling Games' website. Also enjoy this bonus picture of the Pudgy Cat enjoying Flourish as much as I do!